Related posts:Police raid offices, home of US real estate mogul accused of fraud Cops in Limón nab alleged suspect in mugging of British tourists Nicaraguan man found guilty of raping, killing US missionary Israeli tourist caught smuggling cocaine at Costa Rica airport On Saturday night, assailants robbed three U.S. tourists in Costa Rica’s capital San José in an attack that ended with one of the victims rushed to Calerdón Guardia Hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest.Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) told The Tico Times that the 24-year-old victim, Leah Britton, was in stable condition on Monday.Britton and two other tourists were walking in the Los Yoses neighborhood in eastern San José around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday when they were approached by men traveling in a gray car. Four suspects reportedly in their 20s stepped out of the vehicle and threatened the group with a gun. The attackers stole cash, cellphones and passports before telling the victims to lie on the ground.An OIJ spokesman said Britton, after handing over her belongings, refused to lie down. One of the suspects then shot her. The attackers then fled in the same gray vehicle.Britton was admitted to the Calerdón Guardia Hospital in the capital.Jorge Zúñiga, spokesman for the OIJ, told The Tico Times that the police agency recommends robbery victims follow attackers’ orders and avoid fighting. Zúñiga added that suspects often are armed, and resistance could dangerously escalate a situation.He added that Los Yoses, a neighborhood in eastern San José with many hostels, is not known as a dangerous part of the capital, and although robberies are rare, they do occur.As of this post, OIJ investigators have not recovered any belongings or identified the four suspects. The investigation is ongoing. Facebook Comments
by The Associated Press Posted Jul 10, 2019 7:18 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Denied a local permit, Woodstock 50 promoters forge on VERNON, N.Y. — Woodstock 50 promoters say they’re appealing after being denied a local permit to stage the festival at an upstate New York horse track.The town of Vernon ruled Tuesday that the application to stage the festival at the Vernon Downs track and casino was too late and incomplete. Vernon Downs emerged as a possible site for the Aug. 16-18 anniversary festival after the original venue, Watkins Glen International, pulled out last month.Woodstock 50 organizers said in an email Tuesday night that they remain hopeful they can prevail through their appeal and reapplication process. They denied that the application was incomplete and said they believe unspecified “political forces” were working against the festival.The festival has faced other setbacks, including the losses of a financial partner and a production company.The Associated Press
The consumer protection service withdrew children’s clothes from the market and issued warnings after a month-long campaign which finished earlier this month.The campaign covered 260 shops selling children’s clothes where spot-checks were carried out.In 35 cases, inspectors found clothes which did not meet safety standards and the items were withdrawn from the market, while in another 36 cases warnings were issued to shop owners.The service announced more inspections on a daily basis will be carried out and the public will be informed about withdrawn garments.You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoOur View: Argaka mukhtar should not act as if he owns the beachUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
State Rep. Jim Tedder, R- Clarkston, is sworn in by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. (left). He was joined by (from left) sons Briggs and JT, daughter Athena, and wife Nancy. Categories: Tedder News,Tedder Photos 15Jan Rep. Tedder takes ceremonial oath of office
Categories: Leutheuser News 22Aug Rep. Leutheuser hosts in-district coffee hours State Rep. Eric Leutheuser will host coffee hours in Hillsdale and Quincy on Monday, Aug. 28 at the following locations and times:Rough Draft Coffee House, 42 Union St. in Hillsdale from 9 to 10 a.m.McDonald’s Restaurant, 122 Chicago Road in Quincy from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.“The residents of Hillsdale and Branch counties can reach out to me by email or phone, but these face-to-face meetings are always preferred. I look forward to my coffee hours because I get to speak personally to friends and neighbors.” Leutheuser said. “As summer comes to an end and the legislative session begins in earnest I’m hoping to hear from everyone about what’s important to them.”Residents unable to attend these office hours, or with a question or concern, may contact Rep. Leutheuser’s office in Lansing at 517-373-1794, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail at N-992 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 4890.
Share10Tweet2ShareEmail12 SharesFebruary 9, 2016; NewsweekWith all of President Barack Obama’s posturing for criminal reform these past few months, to some advocacy groups, his signing the International Megan’s Law seems counterintuitive to reforming the justice system. President Obama signed the bill into law on Monday, which will require convicted and registered sex offenders who committed crimes against minors to carry a special passport when traveling abroad. The law also requires the Department of Homeland Security to inform foreign governments when these select “covered sex offenders” are traveling into their territories. In response, several civil rights groups and commentators have come together criticizing the overreaching law for misrepresenting the statistics about sex offenders and endangering individuals on the registry.The federal Megan’s Law, later a model for individual state laws with the same name, was signed in 1996 and is named after Megan Kanka from New Jersey, who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender living across the street. Her murder prompted lawmakers to pass the federal law that created the first public sex offender registry, allowing sex offenders to be monitored by members of the community.The law is particularly relevant given that some sex offenders do travel abroad to exploit children in other countries. As indicated by the bill, child pornography and child sex tourism are international phenomena. International Megan’s Law would seem to provide another layer of provision and protection, since sex offenders will now be tracked and readily identifiable outside the country.However, not everyone has been championing the law. Civil rights group for registered sex offenders California Reform Sex Offender Laws filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch alleging that the law violates the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the Ex Post Facto Clause. According to descriptions of the lawsuit, “A passport symbol that identifies an individual as a registered sex offender could place at significant risk that person as well as others traveling with them, including family members and business colleagues.”Similar groups, like Reform Sex Offenders Laws and Florida Action Committee, have aligned behind the lawsuit. Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform in New Hampshire voiced its opposition to the law as it was making its way through Congress, contending that the law is “absolutely void of empirical evidence that it will promote public safety or reduce child sex trafficking.”The concern for sex offenders’ safety may seem counterintuitive; however, it is also well founded. For example, according to the language of the bill, it doesn’t appear that there are any provisions that would monitor whether foreign governments share information about sex offenders with others outside the people who need to know. These are sex offenders who have been convicted of some of the most atrocious crimes. Could the American government control who has this kind of sensitive information? If not, does this law unduly put sex offenders at risk? Do we even care?We should care when we consider exactly who is going to be monitored abroad and whether they should be monitored at all. One of the criticisms of the public registry, coinciding with the movement to reform sex offender laws, is that low-risk (sometimes no-risk), one-time offenders who were convicted in specific circumstances should not be included. For example, consider an individual convicted of statutory rape of a minor at 16 (when his girlfriend is 15 and the age of consent in his state is 16) placed on the registry. Activists and reformers have long wondered if he should be on the same list as a violent, repeat predator. Or what about the 19-year-old from Michigan who was flirting online with a girl who said she was 17, only to find out later she was 14 years old? In these circumstances, we must question whether the public registry is really doing its job. While their crimes may vary greatly and there are different classifications of sex offenses, the fact remains that they are still on the same registry with the same stigma. Although the registry was created to increase the community’s safety, it’s also the sex offenders’ safety that is in peril.David Post at the Washington Post, a longtime critic of the state of the country’s sex offender laws, likened the qualifier on a sex offender’s passport to the yellow stars Jews had to wear during the Holocaust:Passports are not merely the necessary implements for international travel—they are a basic badge of citizenship, and they are used for all sorts of identification purposes (opening a bank account, getting a job, getting a driver’s license) having nothing to do with international travel. There is something truly odious—“Scarlet Letter”-esque, one might say—about requiring people to bear, for their entire lives, this conspicuous badge of dishonor, whatever their prior crime (for which they have already been duly punished) may have been.Post also pointed out in his piece for the Post that the law may unintentionally be harming these individuals who have committed a minor crime, in comparison to other possible crimes.And the fact that the category of “covered sex offenders” includes many thousands of people whose crime involved consensual sexual relations with an underage partner, in many cases when they themselves were teenagers, just serves to make it seem even more wildly disproportionate; the notion that this entire class is somehow predisposed to engage in child sex trafficking is nonsensical, and squarely at odds with the actual recidivism data.Indeed, as noted by Slate’s Leon Neyfakh, the registry and the law are based on an inaccurate premise that once sex offenders are released from prison, they will reoffend. “According to the findings, just 5.3 percent of the 9,691 released sex offenders in the [Bureau of Justice Statistics’] study sample were rearrested for a sex crime within three years of their release,” Neyfakh wrote. “Among male child molesters specifically, recidivism appears to be even lower: of the 4,295 male child molesters in the sample, just 3.3 percent were rearrested for another sex crime against a child within three years of their release.”The goal of the law is noble: Stop sex crimes against children before they happen. Certain violent sex offenders who habitually reoffend should be monitored, if they are abroad. However, the law must acknowledge that not all convicted sex offenders are created equal. As some have already pointed out, an overreaching law may do more harm than good.—Shafaq HasanShare10Tweet2ShareEmail12 Shares
Share6Tweet11Share3Email20 SharesPexels. Public domain.September 11, 2017; CityLabNPQ has written much about the increasing practice in cities with a significant nonprofit sector of asking large institutions like colleges, universities, and hospitals to make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) for the land they take up and services they are provided. Side by side, not usually in the same conversation, cities are also engaged in bidding wars to attract large companies to their city in what CityLab is calling megadeals, corporate deals of $50 million and above. Business Week is calling this the “second war among the states…the state-eat-state competition for capital and jobs that has also been called a ‘race to the bottom.’”The most current megadeal scenario is playing out now with Amazon, and NPQ’s home city, Boston, is one of the bidding municipalities. As Greg LeRoy, executive director and founder of Good Jobs First, points out in this article for CityLab, “it’s the third such episode in three months. Wisconsin enacted a $3 billion subsidy deal for Foxconn and the State of Iowa with a Des Moines suburb awarded $213 million to Apple.”LeRoy asks, “Why on earth do governments keep giving corporations tax break packages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per job—and in Apple’s case, more than $4 million per job?”He outlines a few reasons. One is that the supply of megadeals is shrinking. “It is little known, but the total supply of economic development deals for which states and localities could compete crashed, severely, even before the Great Recession.”This creates what LeRoy calls an “asymmetrical power dynamic” where “companies are free to play states and localities against each other while the affected public officials cannot cooperate with each other. Instead, those charged with managing our public budgets passively do what they are told to do: offer more subsidies.”There is a demand-side cause as well. The decrease in potential deals has made politicians even more anxious about securing one and appearing active on job creation. But, LeRoy notes, the average cost per job created is $658,000. “Companies can even move very short distances within the same labor market—but across a state line, as in the Kansas City, New York, and Memphis metro areas—and be greeted as ‘new job creators’ to legally qualify for huge tax breaks.”This affects small businesses, which are severely shortchanged in this environment. LeRoy writes, “Amazon may be growing, but its competitors are shrinking, and by more, so the net effect is job churn and job loss.” The result is “overspending on deals at rates that guarantee taxpayers will never break even.”Finally, LeRoy asserts that “this zero-sum war has been put on steroids by president Donald Trump,” who “‘personally negotiated the deal’ with Foxconn.” He writes, “The politics of Foxconn’s site location choice were as subtle as an armored vehicle manufacturer locating a factory in the Congressional District of a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee member.”But some states are fighting back with new models.In bi-state ceasefires, “pioneered by 17 prominent business leaders in the Kansas City metro area,” Kansas and Missouri agreed to “deny tax breaks for intra-regional relocations.”The Denver and Colorado metro areas have metro no-raid/cooperation systems where, as a condition of belonging to regional economic development promotion networks, local governments must agree to no job piracy and active responses to indications that a company in a neighboring city wants to relocate.Capping subsidies per job at $50,000 is something many states already do for other programs.New York won agreement to public participation and process requirements as part of their advance-notice and deal-disclosure requirements, which are based on the idea that when taxpayers are part of the process “good things can happen.”GASB statement 77 data is based on a new rule from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board that “requires most state and localities to disclose for the very first time how much revenue they lose to economic development tax break programs.”NPQ generally approves of PILOTs; we believe that it is important for large nonprofits to commit to the tax bases and sustainability of residents in their communities. But, that argument may feel harder to honor in cities that are handing out tax breaks to corporations that do not honor their own commitments.—Cyndi SuarezShare6Tweet11Share3Email20 Shares
Share10Tweet5ShareEmail15 Shares“LA Green Grounds Dig-In on S Harvard Blvd.” Photo by Craig Dietrich.March 5, 2018; Next CityEarlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti “called on the city to consider mandatory retrofits of steel-framed buildings,” reports Rachel Dovey in Next City. “Experts believe a number of Los Angeles’ steel-framed buildings erected before the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which killed 60 people and damaged upwards of 40,000 buildings, could collapse” should another major earthquake occur.For his part, Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times that “There are buildings in Los Angeles that have slipped through the cracks. But we can’t let people in an earthquake be killed by those cracks.” Garcetti added, “Sometimes it takes political courage, but we have to make sure we don’t look back after an earthquake and have lives that were lost and say, ‘Well, we did as much as we could.’”Garcetti’s proposal is prompted in large measure by the release of a new Resilient Los Angeles report. Like similar reports released in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Boston, the Los Angeles report is a product of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program. The comprehensive document outlines a broad agenda. As the report points out, the population of the city of Los Angeles now exceeds 4 million and the greater Los Angeles region has a gross domestic product that exceeds $1 trillion. More than a third (37.8 percent) of city residents are foreign-born, speaking to the city’s importance as an immigrant gateway. The city has a high poverty rate of 22 percent and a population in which 62 percent of residents rent their housing. By contrast, the national poverty rate is 12.7 percent and the national homeownership rate is 64.2 percent—essentially the reverse of the Los Angeles residency numbers.To address the city’s housing shortfall, one goal highlighted in the report was the city’s commitment to build 100,000 new residential units by 2021. All told, the report issues 96 recommendations in five areas: economic security, climate adaptation, leadership and engagement, infrastructure modernization, and disaster preparedness and recovery.Among the measures highlighted in the Los Angeles Times are the following:Develop customized disaster preparedness plans tailored to all of Los Angeles’ neighborhood councils. A specific plan for Venice might focus on sea-level rise; Chatsworth, wildfire danger; and the Hollywood Hills, mudslides.Create disaster preparedness and response centers in Los Angeles in the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods by 2028. So-called Neighborhood Resilience Hubs would be located in buildings such as a city recreation center or a community organization’s offices. After an earthquake, such places might be able to keep the lights on even during a widespread power outage, allowing residents to recharge cellphones; help keep them informed through satellite communications; and offer extra supplies of food and water.Launch projects to cool neighborhoods as Los Angeles faces a future with more days of extreme heat, such as planting more trees and painting streets whiter to reflect heat back into the air. Areas that can become particularly warm, where summer average land-surface temperatures can exceed 115 degrees, include Boyle Heights, El Sereno and much of the San Fernando Valley.Develop and eventually adopt stronger minimum earthquake building standards for new structures. Currently, new buildings must be built only to a level to prevent killing people during an earthquake, but they are allowed to be so damaged that they will need to be torn down.Expand the mayor’s Office of Resilience and have city departments pick their own resilience officers to get these goals accomplished.As Dovey points out, the report not only proposes disaster preparedness measures, but also takes a hard look at “the long-term effects of climate change and the many localized stressors—like income inequality and structural racism…that disproportionately impact marginalized communities.”As the report’s authors pointedly note, more than new public works will be required. “Building a more resilient Los Angeles starts with addressing the needs of our most vulnerable populations and neighborhoods,” the authors contend. They continue:Too often, those who are least equipped to handle the effects of catastrophic events end up suffering the most. And empowering our most vulnerable—children, immigrants, and lower-income residents, among others—is not just about emergency preparedness. It is about directly addressing those underlying daily stresses—such as poverty, financial security, and affordable housing—and ensuring that all Angelenos feel safe and secure in their daily lives. It also means bringing neighbors together to strengthen our collective resources and social bonds and innovating creative solutions along the way.—Steve DubbShare10Tweet5ShareEmail15 Shares
Virgin Media’s TiVo platform helped the cable operator to exceed one billion VOD views last year.This time last year the UK operator predicted that total VOD views for the year would surpass one billion. The final total was 1,004,447,198, which doesn’t include content stored locally on DVR hard drives. That figure is an increase of 14% on 2010. Virgin Media said that if someone were to watch this much television in one sitting it would take more than 56,000 years. ITV drama Coronation Street was the most watched catch-up show, while The Vampire Diaries was the most popular complete series.Virgin Media introduced its next generation service TiVo during the first half of the year, and statistics show that the platform’s search and recommendation engines are helping customers to engage with more VOD content. Almost 90% of searches were for programmes outside audience research group BARB’s top 50.“Essentially people are watching more TV; whether that’s On Demand, suggestions recorded for them, or as a result of new and exciting interactive experiences,” said Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media. “We know On Demand is incredibly popular as it’s watched more than any channel except for BBC1 or ITV1 but we far surpassed our expectations in 2011. We’ve led the development of On Demand and we’re now doing the same with TiVo, which takes the entertainment experience to another level.”
TVP has applied for a license to run two new channels, TVP Dokument and TVP Rozrywka.The factual and general entertainment services would be carried on DTH and DTT if the KRRiT broadcasting regulator gives the green light.
Hybrid TV technology specialist httv has partnered with EKT (Eagle Kingdom Technologies) to deploy satellite TV set-top boxes equipped with advanced connected TV features, it announced at IBC.The deal will see httv integrate its httvLink open-middleware solution into EKT DSR6201 PVR and DSD601 zapper DVB-S2 set top boxes.httvLink is based on Linux and HTML5 and is it is fully compatible with the HbbTV Standard. The new httvLink-equipped EKT set-top boxes are aimed at emerging markets like Asia and South America and are designed to offer “a best-in class solution at affordable prices,” said httv.
NanoTech has partnered with Armada Music to add the Armada TV music channel to its UltraFlix 4K streaming service. Armada TV, which was co-founded in 2003 by music producer Armin van Buuren, will feature electronic dance music videos and is due to launch on UltraFlix from tomorrow.“By partnering with Armada Music, we are able to bring our viewers a lineup of music videos from the world’s biggest name DJ’s all in stunning 4K Ultra HD that can be found nowhere else,” said Aaron Taylor, NanoTech’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.UltraFlix is an ultra high-definition smart TV App for 4K smart TV manufacturers including Samsung, Sony, Vizio with other in the process of completing their testing and integration.
Apple is now aiming for a 2016 launch for its planned cloud TV with licensing talks progressing slowly, according to a Bloomberg report.Citing people familiar with Apple’s plans, Bloomberg said that Apple had scrapped plans to launch the online TV service at an event in San Francisco on September 9, but will still launch an updated version of its Apple TV set-top box then.The report claimed content licensing talks with the likes of CBS and 21st Century Fox were moving slowly and that price was “the main stumbling block.”Apple has also reportedly encountered capacity issues related to offering a fast and glitch-free viewing experience.Reports earlier this year claimed that Apple was aiming to launch an online TV service this autumn in partnership with broadcasters including ABC, CBS and Fox.Apple is said to be planning a “slimmed-down” cable-style bundle of roughly 25 channels that will be available to view across Apple devices.
Vimeo has added ‘coming soon’ pages, and VIP access codes for its Vimeo On Demand service.The coming soon feature lets content makers publish a page before their videos are ready, so they can start building their audience.The VIP access codes allow video makers to give press, backers and friends free access to content that is normally available on a paid basis.“Whatever you’re selling, we hope these new features help you share them with even more people around the world (and make more money, too),” said Vimeo.
Euronews’ new African channel, Africanews, will launch today at 18:00 West Africa time in Congo Brazzaville.The channel, which Euronews has hailed as the first pan-African news media service, will be available in French and English on all digital platforms. The service will initially be available via its website, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and via a new interactive app called Story Hunters.The channel is designed to provide news on Africa and the rest of the world from an African perspective. The service employs 85 people at offices in Pointe Noire, Congo-Brazzaville’s second-largest city. The channel’s editorial management team comprises Mame Campbell Touré, bureau chief, Isaac Khaguli Esipisu, editor in chief, and François Chignac, director of editorial development. Africanews also makes use of a network of correspondents around the continent.Euronews said that the channel would start broadcasting on major distribution networks within the next few weeks.“This is a milestone in the history of our Group. It all began with the recognition that the rising African continent is an incredible source of news and that there is a great pool of talent that lacks a quality media environment,” said Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews and Africanews.“I want to thank all of the people at Africanews and Euronews who have been working together for months to prepare the launch of this new media whose mission is to ensure the independence and diversity of the news, as a founding principle of Africanews. Africanews is the first organisation to provide news from a pan-African point of view and it will spotlight all the talents of Africa.”
David AbrahamChannel 4 reported record revenues of £979 million last year, an increased audience share for its main channel and spent more money on content than ever before.Unveiling Channel 4’s 2015 annual report, CEO David Abraham said that the UK broadcaster had delivered on its public service remit, at a time when the its future ownership structure hangs in the balance.“Channel 4 had a record impact on audiences and the UK’s creative sector in 2015 with our investment in original content, our commercial revenues and, critically, the delivery of our public service remit, all at their highest ever levels,” said Abraham.“We expect this impact and growth to continue in 2016 and, as a wide range of independent experts have concluded, our focus on both creative and commercial innovation has positioned us very strongly for the future.”Channel 4 said it spent a record £629m on content last year, of which a record £455m was allocated to originally commissioned TV, film and digital content through partnerships with production companies across the UK.With the success of new programmes like Humans, No Offence, Hunted, SAS: Who Dares Wins, Channel 4 said that viewing share at its flagship channel was up 1% overall and up 8% during peak hours of 7-11pm. The Channel’s share of 16-34 viewers was up by 2% in all-time and 7% in peak.Revenues were up 4.4% from £938m in 2014, which Channel 4 attributed to strong advertising sales performance, ad market growth and growth in digital revenues.“As is publicly known, the government has stated it is reviewing options for the organisation’s future ownership and as I write we await further news from that process. In the meantime it is my responsibility as chair to ensure the board retains full focus on the fulfilment of Channel 4’s statutory functions,” said Channel 4 chair Charles Gurassa in a statement, included in the annual report.The news came as The Telegraph reported that the UK government will not seek to fully privatise Channel 4 – an idea previously touted as an option. However, it may seek to sell off a minority stake to a strategic partner and open Channel 4’s accounts to National Audit Office scrutiny.The government will reportedly finalise its plans for Channel 4 later this year, after its plans for the BBC have been completed. A white paper on BBC reforms is due to be published this week.
Sky CEO Jeremy DarrochSky has reported strong full year results with revenue climbing by 7% and adjusted operating profit increasing by 12%.Announcing its results for the twelve months ended June 30, 2016, Sky said that revenue for the full year came to £11.97 billion (€14.29 billion) while adjusted operating profit was £1.56 billion.Earnings per-share, adjusted on a like-per-like basis to exclude the £791 million profit Sky made on the sale of its shareholdings in ITV and Nat Geo, were also up 13% year-on-year to 63.1p.Commenting on the results, Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said that the company had broadened its business and expanded into new consumer segments, applying its strategy across the group.“The group is leveraging the many opportunities of scale; sharing resources, insights, expertise and innovation. We are investing in a broad range of world-class entertainment in every market, distributed across an unrivalled choice of market-leading platforms and supported by excellent service, because these are the things that really matter to customers.”In the UK and Ireland, Sky passed £8 billion in revenue for the first time, which Sky attributed to “giving consumers more and more reasons to choose Sky” – including the launch of its new Sky Q offering.However, churn in the UK and Ireland was 11.2% for the year, up from 9.8% a year earlier. Sky attributed this to a limit on retention discounts and the communication of a 4-5% TV price rise, which took effect from last month.In Germany and Austria, Sky said it had broadened its TV offering to attractmore customers and announced the launch of its Sky 1channel in this market.In Italy, Darroch said that Sky is “outperforming a competitive market”, with the Italian customer base returning to growth for the first time in five years.Across its customer base, Sky said that it added 808,000 customers, including 160,000 in Q4, taking its total customer base to 21.8 million. Of these new sign-ups 445,000 new customers across the year were in the UK and Ireland.
Charlotte JonesBBC Earth is looking to experiment with ‘haptic’ virtual reality experiences – involving a sense of touch as well as sight and hearing – and augmented reality experiences with information and graphics overlaid on video sequences, according to Charlotte Jones, executive producer at BBC Earth Productions.Interviewed by James Kotecki for C Space Studio at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jones said that creators were “still very much on the nursery slopes” and how to create and use VR content would take time to work out.Jones said that BBC Earth had “looked into haptic”, meaning experiences that involved touch as well as sight and hearing.“We think it will be big. The platforms we are working with haven’t given us opportunities on a commercial level – we aren’t working on any films with haptic elements in them, but of course we are well aware that this is something we’d like to get our hands on. We think that with the adventure format, this is something that could work really well,” she said.Jones said that BBC Earth, the natural history partner of BBC commercial unit BBC Worldwide, would also be looking at augmented reality, involving the overlay of virtual elements on real video, this year. “Another opportunity to overlay information or experiences in your daily life is something that could be really extraordinary. There is a lot of interest in it but it still has a long way to go,” she said.Highlighting that the technology is still at an early stage of development, Jones said that there is a danger currently that consumers could be switched off the virtual reality format by substandard VR content, and emphasised that VR experiences should be “short and good”.“We are at a point in this platform’s evolution where if the consumers don’t see good content you are going to disappear into the trough of despondency,” she said. “On an innovation graph, you have a huge immediate take up of anything new, and when everyone is pouring out a range of quality of content, the mainstream consumer will look at it and say ‘is this really what I think it is?’ – and suddenly you have everyone having a downer about it.”Jones said there was active movement to create good quality content. “Stories are being developed. It is easy in its basic form so we are now looking at how to create stories from it. The one thing that is really going to be important is to plug into emotion. Some of the VR stories that I have seen that plug into emotion are so much more engaging because you are totally immersed in it.”Jones said that VR would nevertheless “slow progress” and would still be learning how to use the technology in five years time. “A lot will depend on unifying platforms and streaming so that for the consumer it is not as fragmented as it is at present,” she said.BBC Earth last week announced that it had teamed up with Oculus to create three new VR experiences for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headset users.
Arnaud de PuyfontaineVivendi’s first attempt at convergence may have failed spectacularly, but the all-new media-focused Vivendi of 2017 is set to lead the way with a ‘horizontal’ convergence model, according to CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.Vivendi first went down this road with the ill-fated Jean-Marie Messier-led acquisition spree that culminated in the French telecom group’s disastrous merger with Universal at the turn of the century.Speaking for the first time at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, De Puyfontaine said that Vivendi had been among the first to see the potential of convergence, but that the plan had been ahead of its time.Making reference to Vivendi’s Messier-era plan to bring telecoms and media assets together – which ended with the near bankruptcy of the group and the sale of a majority stake in Universal to NBC – he said: “The Vivendi of 2017 is a very different company but that insight still holds true.”De Puyfontaine claimed that Vivendi is now putting together “the building blocks of a new type of company shaped between entertainment content and telecoms”.The company has now opted for a horizontal convergence model rather than a vertical one, he said. In January, Vivendi hired Telefonica Brasil’s former chief executive Amos Genish to take on the role of chief convergence officer to head up the company’s efforts in this area.“The main core is the creative content businesses,” said De Puyfontaine, adding that Vivendi is now an “entertainment powerhouse” with the “ambition to be a worldwide leader”, whose activities span film and TV, music and games.“Vivendi is today one of the top European content players, based on Canal+, Universal Music and [gaming company] Gameloft.”Describing the acquisition of Gameloft as Vivendi’s “return to the gaming market”, De Puyfontaine said a mobile game based on StudioCanal’s hit movie franchise Paddington would be released at the same time as the second Paddington movie this year, while the soundtrack would be available from Universal Music – an example of the kind of cross-platform synergy made possible by the horizontal convergence model.De Puyfontaine said that mobile would be a key part of the vision and cited Vivendi’s creation of short-form mobile content unit Studio+ as an example.“Music, films and gaming have one thing in common – they are all increasingly accessed via mobile, but there is a shortage of premium content available via mobile.” He said Vivendi had tried to address this via the creation of Studio+, which “brings unexpected and powerful stories to life…through a dedicated app.”Earlier this week, Vivendi struck a deal with Russian service provider VimpelCom – now rebranded as Veon – to introduce Studio+ to Russia in June. De Puyfontaine said deals of this type with mobile operators would help the latter pull customers towards taking bigger data bundles.He claimed that content companies would have to find a way to compete with the ‘GAFA’ internet giants – Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple – and would need scale to invest in intellectual property and distribute their content to a wider audience. In this context, the interests of media and telecom operators are aligned, he said.Mediaset deal still possibleSpeaking at MWC, De Puyfontaine indicated that Vivendi is hopeful that a deal with Mediaset is still possible, despite the ongoing legal battles between the two media groups.On the question of Vivendi’s southern European strategy and the botched deal with Mediaset, De Puyfontaine said he believed it was possible to find a way forward.He reiterated that Vivendi’s stake in Telecom Italia, in which it is the leading shareholder, was also central to its goals, pointing out that Italy has no legacy cable infrastructure and that the telecom operator would play the major role in bringing high-speed connectivity to Italian consumers.“We are creating a new story for Telecom Italia and [we want to] build a southern European player with Mediaset. We will find a solution and make it work. I’m pretty sure about that.”De Puyfontaine’s comments came in the same week that Milan prosecutors opened an investigation into the French media group for allegedly manipulating the market at the time of its acquisition – in a series of steps – of close to 30% of Mediaset’s stock at the end of last year. Vivendi said the probe was the result of the “unfounded and abusive” lawsuit launched by Mediaset’s owners, which is set to come to court soon.
Twitter has announced a raft of live-streamed content deals across sports, news and entertainment at its first-ever Digital Content NewFronts presentation.Twitter unveiled details of a dozen new collaborations at the New York Event in a move that will bring new, exclusive and original live programming to the service.“We could not be prouder of the success we have achieved so quickly since launching live streaming premium content. Last quarter, we streamed over 800 hours of live premium content from leading brands across sports, esports, news, and entertainment,” said Twitter COO Anthony Noto.“Adding these 12 new live deals tonight is a testament to the success of our only-on-Twitter experience, combining high quality streaming video with our only-on-Twitter conversation.”The deals include the rights, from next month, to stream a regular-season WNBA women’s basketball game. Twitter has also agreed to provide more coverage around the weekly live MLB games that stream on Twitter this season and the PGA golf footage it airs.Stadium is a new 24/7 linear stream that will premiere on Twitter in the coming months. This will show live collegiate sporting events, highlights, classic games, and daily live studio programming.On the news front, Twitter has collaborated with Bloomberg, The Verge, BuzzFeed News and Cheddar on a number of new shows.